Southland – best show of the week

Cooper and Lucero in Southland series 5
Cooper and his partner Lucero

PRAISING Southland is like being the good old voice in the wilderness in the UK. It’s a superb shot of life as an LAPD cop, with fine actors, pumping action and subtle storytelling amid the gore and bleakness of life on the streets.

Most people in Britain have not heard of it. The drama, now in its fifth and scandalously last series, is hidden away on Channel 4’s sister network More4 – and even they schedule it at 11pm.

Which is a great shame. Last week’s episode, entitled Heroes, showed what a powerful show Southland has become. It was a heartrending story featuring John Cooper, played by Michael Cudlitz, who tries to help his old mentor Hicks, now a broken-down drunk close to suicide.

We see Coop emotionally blackmailed by a priest into visiting his evil, dying father. This is a man who raped Coop’s girlfriend and is now in prison.

Cooper confronts Hicks

All of which makes the episode’s final scene when Cooper confronts Hicks, who is at Coop’s house and has soiled himself while sleeping off a booze session, all the more affecting. Hicks has previously hit Coop, a man mountain, and is wallowing in his lonely, miserable life of retirement.

It is then that Coop tells Hicks that he still matters to him, that when he’d been a frightened rookie looked after by Hicks, the older man had been ‘like a god’ to him. And we realise that Hicks was the father Coop never had. It was a blockbuster scene.

The further genius of the show is that Coop is gay. But it makes no big issue about this, never using the life he keeps secret from his colleagues as a cheap source of storylines. He just is.

I think what finally sets Southland apart is that amid all the state-of-the-art filming on the streets, the car chases and shoot-outs, it is a drama with a lot of heart. It will be missed.

TNT has a very good site for Southland

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